DFL endorses Moe for governor’s race

K.C. Howard

It came down to gender and experience for many Minnesota delegates at the DFL state convention this weekend.

After seven rounds of balloting, the race to elect the DFL’s gubernatorial candidate Saturday fell between State Auditor Judi Dutcher and Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine.

In the end, Moe, with 32 years of legislative experience in the Democratic Party, won and became the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor.

“We’re in this together from now on,” Moe said. “This campaign will be about the future.”

Dutcher, who would have been the first female major-party candidate for governor in Minnesota history, spent eight years as assistant city attorney for Minneapolis and city attorney for Eden Prairie before becoming state auditor as a Republican in 1994. She left the party for the DFL in 2000, saying the GOP had strayed too far right.

Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, was the first of the three candidates to drop out of the gubernatorial race, telling her delegates to support Dutcher.

“I believe that it’s time for a woman,” she said.

But even as Lourey and Dutcher urged delegates to swing to Dutcher’s court, Moe climbed closer to garnering the necessary 60 percent of ballots, prompting Dutcher to conclude her campaign.

“We will all come together and endorse the next DFL gubernatorial candidate of this great state: Roger Moe,” Dutcher said. “It was a hard-fought victory.”

First-time delegate and University junior Michelle Collins, of the 62nd Senate District, was one of 1,300 delegates to grace the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Collins said she didn’t know whom she would support Saturday morning. And as an undecided delegate, she said, candidates showered her with affection.

“It was pretty fun getting all of the phone calls,” Collins said. “I think my roommate actually got annoyed.”

After much campaign cajoling, Collins voted for Dutcher.

“I want a woman in the governor’s office. It’s time. (The other major parties) all have white men running,” she said. “It’s just the idea of having a contrast between our candidates and all the others.”

But as the day moved on, Collins watched her district and others move toward Moe.

“Campaigns are roasting out delegates and getting them down here,” said University alumnus William Nynas, co-chairman of the 62nd Senate District.

Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., went unchallenged and received the U.S. Senate endorsement Friday.

The months ahead will be challenging for the incumbent, who said he will probably spend two weeks at the U.S. Capitol for every two weeks he spends campaigning in the state and maybe take a day off between.

“If you believe in it, you do it,” Wellstone said. “I think it will be a very hard campaign.”

The senator recently announced he has multiple sclerosis but said he doesn’t expect it will slow him down.

He still holds the pull-up record among Capitol security, said Jim Farrel, Wellstone’s campaign communications director.

But University political science professor Hy Berman said he
doesn’t think re-election will be an easy feat for the senator.

“The city vote is good for (Wellstone),” Berman said. “The battle is going to be in the suburbs.”

DFL delegates also selected incumbent Mike Hatch for attorney general, first-time office seeker Herbert (Buck) Humphrey for secretary of state and state Rep. Gregory Gray, DFL-Minneapolis, for state auditor.

All candidates except Moe, will run unopposed within the party until the November general election.

Minneapolis resident and artist Ole Savior – who garnered only three delegate votes Saturday – did not receive the DFL endorsement but said he would run against Moe.

The GOP gubernatorial endorsement will be made June 14 at the St. Paul Xcel Energy Center.